these here are the tales of...

Belarus (2) Canada (7) China (2) creative (4) Czech (5) dance (4) design (1) Egypt (3) Estonia (3) family (10) festivals (2) health (6) Indonesia (1) inspiration (14) Japan (2) Korea (1) language (11) Lithuania (1) London (2) nature (24) philosophy (6) photos (8) politics (5) roadtrip (4) studies (8) sustainability (8) Taiwan (38) teaching (5) Thailand (9) Turkey (2) video (3) wisdom (3) workie (2) yummm (6)

HOME - an amazingly beautiful wake up wall to what our planet is facing

HOME - an amazingly beautiful wake up wall to what our planet is facing

Monday, November 29, 2010

The New North

We just survived elections for each district's politicians as well as the mayor of Taipei County's areas surrounding Taipei that have been organized into Xinbei City (New North City). I say survived because there's been some stiff competition for each spot, resulting in endless campaigning. In Taiwan, this amounts to (extra) trucks driving around with loudspeakers waking you up in the morning soliciting (citizens') votes and just before election day, more and more parade-type processions of the candidate with retinue, snare drums, fireworks, ... even a car done up like a tank driving around campaigning for someone. I do hope it wasn't a real one.

What's more, the city and county was literally plastered with flags and posters. Here is an example:
image source

My friend's colleague, having freshly arrived from UK for business, apparently nearly got into an accident crossing the road because in his own words: "I couldn't see anything because of all the flags!"

Finally, there really was a bit of an unexpected
incident when the night before the elections someone shot at a politician and killed a bystander. Given that it was the son of a former vice-president who apparently faked his own death in a previous publicity stunt, I'm not sure what to think...

Anyway, it's all behind us now. The flags are gone. There are still cheerful photos -- of candidates -- gracing buses, but the loudspeaker trucks are back down in frequency to the couple of self-enterprising repairmen and possibly a collection scheme for paper. Anyway, I've gotten used to the one truck's nice little jingle and the other one's fairly-annoyed-sounding recording soliciting for ... whatever it is he's soliciting for. I still haven't deciphered much of it besides: "Do you or do you not have/need...?"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Super Creative Electricity Transmission Line Towers

this is so cool! (reposted from Super Creative Electricity Transmission Line Towers and not my writing in any way shape or form. for example, I don't think "awe" is a verb)

Every once in a while we awe at something that is so cool that we wish it existed in the real world that we occupy. This is one of those things. One look at the image and you get it. Immediately.


Visualized by American design firm Choi + Shine Architects, these massive structures look almost reassuring, like some gods that stand united watching over the lands. [Kind of reminds us of the The Gates of Argonath from the Lord of the Rings. :) ]

The structure won the 2010 Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture Award and we bet it wouldn’t be the last accolade that it wins.


From the architect’s site:

This design transforms mundane electrical pylons into statues on the Icelandic landscape by making only small alterations to existing pylon design. Making only minor alterations to well established steel-framed tower design, we have created a series of towers that are powerful, solemn and variable. These iconic pylon-figures will become monuments in the landscape. Seeing the pylon-figures will become an unforgettable experience, elevating the towers to something more than merely a functional design of necessity.

The pylon-figures can also be arranged to create a sense of place through deliberate expression. Subtle alterations in the hands and head combined with repositioning of the main body parts in the x, y and z-axis, allow for a rich variety of expressions. The pylon-figures can be placed in pairs, walking in the same direction or opposite directions, glancing at each other as they pass by or kneeling respectively, head bowed at a town.


They even managed to bring out gender differences in them!

*Huge respect to the minds behind these*

Friday, September 17, 2010

Living out the Dream of Tea!

There's something about tea I've always found fascinating. I grew up drinking the Russian style brew - a dark, deep infusion of black tea, mediated with hot water and sugar to taste, plus a generous slice of lemon adding its cheerful sunny taste and colour to the cup. Many years later travelling through Turkey, I discovered they brew the heck out of the leaves and then dilute them with water in the same staunch tradition.

By that point I'd already gotten on the "green tea is healthy" bandwagon, although I was also exposed to the latest fads of yerba mate from Brazil, rooibos from South Africa, chai from India via Oregon and the myriad herbal infusions that are often made welcome under the giant umbrella of the term "TEA". I'd also had the fortune of partaking in a Japanese tea ceremony, knocked back by the matcha powder whisked patiently into its unbelievably heavy-flavoured, thick watery bath by a hand-held bamboo whisk and presented with delicate tiny sweets, invoking exotic and faraway mysteries of Japan.

Living in Taiwan has properly introduced me to authentic, masterful quality tea leaves steeped in a pure fashion with centuries of tradition offering just the right tools for its enjoyment and ideally, demanding nothing less than 100 percent of your attention. Making tea in the way that might be taught by Zen masters is like entering into its own dimension, as time is measured carefully and yet drops away, the aroma and flavour of the leaves unfurling in the small clay pots entirely subduing the normally incessant mind chatter.

It's hardly surprising, then, that with no small measure of excitement I jumped at the chance to spend a few days with tea farmers in Nantou County, getting an intimate look at how tea is made. Starting with the fabulous premise of a small group arriving by local transport into the welcoming houses of several tea families in Lugu village in central Taiwan, the trip just continuously got better, as we met Mei and Daphne, our extremely patient and accommodating guides, the rest of the tour goers and the graciously patient farmers - the extent of Taiwanese hospitality and friendliness will probably never cease to amaze me.

We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and after some introductions over delicate porcelain cups of Dongding oolong this region is so famous for, we went to survey newly picked leaves laid out to wither and soften, then helped heap them into round slightly concave bamboo trays stacked up to be fluffed for extra circulation at appropriate times, then later spun in a big drum, which helps shake out any kind of broken off pieces and other unwanted bits, while further aerating the leaves. This whole process is called fermentation or oxidation or "sweating," since different compounds come out from the leaves and the very experienced farmers use their very experienced noses to appoint just the right moment to halt the fermentation once the hint of the right bouquet has appeared. Green teas, we learned, are fermented between 8-22%, while the oolong we were working with is halfway to black and so left to develop its flavor a bit longer, its colour when brewed taking on a light to medium brown.

Next comes the transfer from the wicker mesh drying drum into 350C-hot metal spinning drums, where the leaves are "fired" for about 7 minutes to halt the fermentation. Then, they are gently, and finally dried in a big machine with zigzagging conveyor belts that eventually heap the leaves out into waiting trays to be cooled.

While waiting for the leaves to sweat just enough, we were treated to a fabulous home-cooked meal and a lesson in the art of brewing the perfect cup. After a long and exciting day, we trooped off to bed. The next morning dawned bright and clear and after a traditional Taiwanese breakfast, we headed up the mountain where rows of tea bushes awaited our plucking. We did our best to pick just the most delicate young shoots, while being guided by the real pickers and even hearing their tea-picking songs composed for just such occasions and passed down through generations.
The afternoon was a delight for me, as I love black tea, having grown up with it in my childhood. Taiwanese black tea is beautifully aromatic, and we were about to make it ourselves! Heaping tea leaves onto a working surface, we spent nearly two hours, each diligently rolling and squeezing our little heap into a ball, then fluffing it out and repeating the process. The tea leaves gradually released their juices and started to turn a beautiful reddish brown.
Then they were fired for us and when we returned later that evening, we had a mini-competition of trying to determine who made the best batch. Each person's leaves were brewed and we judged by looking and smelling the leaves and the "tea soup", then tasting each cup with a small spoon. This was apparently just the way a real competition is held and one day I hope to see one, with the best teas around the world vying for the top place.
Some of my favourite parts of the trip were the walks we took to take in the beauty of the place - the mountain landscape, valleys stretching below us, exotic fruit and flowers hanging from every vine and branch and the clean, fresh, wonderful air.

Overall, a phenomenal experience that I'll be savoring for months to come as I infuse a pot of tea with leaves I prepared with my own hands, smelling and tasting with a new appreciation for the hard work and long hours it takes to create the perfect cup.

First Week of Uni

Well, I've done it! I've become a university student!

First week is behind me and the verdict is: YAY! I have friendly classmates ranging from 19-50something in age who come from Asia, Europe and all the Americas and I plan to be practicing my français and espanol in the next few years, plus maybe getting down a few key phrases in Japanese, for example:

“Ah-nah-tah wa ha-ruh no ee-chee ban no sah-ku-rah yo-ree u-tsu-ku-shee.”

Apparently this is a classic Japanese pick-up line and means “You’re more beautiful than the first cherry blossom of spring.” These are important things to understand when someone stops you and is mumbling something in Japanese. Mwahahaha...

I'm in school 5 days a week, 4 of which will require a 45 minute commute (please no traffic jams!) in each direction to 林口 Linkou in Taipei county. That all ends up to a lot of sitting on my bum, but the campus is beautiful, the air is OH SO CLEAN! and every Thursday we have compulsory gym class to keep us from permanently becoming shaped like bodies that only fit into school desks.

Most of the courses are directly focused on the 4 Language Skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, but I'm throwing in an easy elective introducing Chinese Food Culture and although my schedule just doesn't fit around the Chinese Festivals course, I might buy the textbook all the same and learn about the firecrackers and gods and why you can't whistle during Ghost Month.

Outside of school, life continues a rather unceasing fast-paced dance of shared responsibilities and collaborations with roommates, fellow meditators and work, laundry, plants, books and friends. Onward, ho!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back in the steamy Taipei of August

It's Day 2 since I landed and I'm up bright and early. It's been kind of exciting to be back in Taipei, as if exploring a new place again, after the details of it blurred a bit in my mind, layered over by all the places I visited on my trip.
Thanks again to my family and everyone I saw over my brief weeks in Canada. It was a truly lovely (and needed!) vacation and I feel full of great new memories and conversations. ;-)

I watched two great movies on the plane, and definitely recommend both.

1. Oceans
Filmed in over 50 countries by the makers of "Winged Migration," I thought it was really interesting to watch a nature documentary that's quite different in style from BBC's Planet Earth, but no shortage of "is that real?" incredible scenes. In fact, a lot of the time I wasn't even sure if I was watching real footage, or computer animation. I think this may partly come from them getting in really close to many animals, where you as a viewer, really spend time with their faces and I found them both very alien and humanoid at the same time.Warning: there is a pretty disturbing part about 2/3 of the way through - guess what about? Humans wreaking havoc on the oceans, of course... At the very end, there was a sentence en francais on the screen that I translated to mean: "No animals were harmed for the purpose of making this documentary; all the massacre scenes were re-enacted." I found that difficult to believe, but maybe what it really meant is they didn't stage any deaths, just found them happening and filmed them. Very sad.
If you're not shy about downloading, I have found one link online, but no English subtitles, although there is minimal talking and the visuals would be more than powerful enough on their own
Also, check out their cool (all in French) interactive website

2. Men in the City (or Männerherzen in its native deutsch)

Althought IMDB gives it a pretty low rating and it's true, it's all a bit simplistic with stories set up so we watch lives quickly fall apart, then wrap up neatly again with a feel-good ending, I thought this was a totally enjoyable watch. Very funny, clean enough for the whole family and great editing that really helps the stories weave in and out of each other, finally incorporating just about everyone whose face you've seen onscreen.
The plot is set around a bunch of men, strangers at first, who go to the same gym, their love lives and successes (or lack thereof) and how we can all step up and be the better people we can be.

Friday, August 6, 2010

in the WIDE OPEN spaces of Canada

Aaaah.... a sigh of relief as I arrive in Vancouver... Fresh air, stylishly dressed people and all... this... s-p-a-c-e-! My mind suddenly has a chance to unclutter itself, spread out, empty... rest.

What a treat staying in my old neighborhood hugging Commercial Drive! I wake up to seagulls calling to the morning breeze, wander the shady residential streets, house after house lounging beneath regally old trees, splashes of colorful blooms crowding front yards. So nice to reconnect with old friends and meet a few wide-eyed toddlers who've taken their parents lives by happy storm since I've been living the Asian expat life.

I spend three days digging through years of accumulated stuff , piece by piece finding its way to new owners or the recycling bin, with some hard-to-part-with bits weighing me down again. Oh, STUFF! It'll be nice to have a stereo again though.

On my last day the weather's still beautifully sunny, if chill with the sea-kissed gusts of wind, so I hop on a bike and go for a mondo ride to see the fair city of Vangroovy. Aiming for the oceanside at Stanley Park, I detour along False Creek and haul uphill and along the Granville Bridge to visit Granville Island. Yay! There are totem poles in various stages of carving, shaved wood blanketing the ground,
spirit faces emerging from the fallen trees. A whimsical potter is crafting a fantastic fish-and-human-face-encircled fountain as an afternoon project. An accordion player busks sauntering down the street.

Inside the Public Market, it's Foodie Paradise - it's BC blueberries season and they're piled alongside heaps of squashes and peaches, there are cheese and olive counters, fresh pasta, seafood and famous BC salmon, teas, smoothies, fudge, home-made chutneys, bulk bins aplenty, foods and spices from around the world at the trendy South China Seas Trading Co. This whole enormous cornucopia of delights is at first seductive, but I slowly notice that the dangerously laden shelves at one bakery after another are actually starting to become overwhelming... I finally leave feeling completely full after buying nothing... The ultimate diet plan?

Outside again, I stop to buy some Haida art postcards and admire huge masks, costumes and sculptures at one of my all-time-faves: Eagle Spirit Gallery.

Pressing on, I head to the beach. Dipping my feet into the ocean's salty waters has been put off for too long! People are lying around sunbathing, which I haven't seen in ages, and the newly-acquired Asian in me is appalled at their careless skin-sizzling in the high-noon sun. Water's freezing though, and anyone actually venturing in seems to be doing it with a lot of squealing.

I jump back on my trusty peddle-stallion and make one last stop in Chinatown. Then off to re-pack and de-own and donate things for the umpteenth time, with some small acquisitions (haha, I know, but it's to support the underground arts!) from my very talented and über-unique artist friends at Trypton Media.

My verdict on Vancouver: what a great city for enjoying life! (disclaimer: having money significantly helps)

Next stop: flying into Toronto on my birthday! Family, friends and nature time! My sister and I serendipitously wander into a Dusk Dances performance and two nights later take in some modern Japanese taiko drumming at the Musical Garden at the Harbourfront, after kicking back at Toronto's new Sugar Beach. There is so much going on in this city, doing just the things you are interested in would be a very very busy full-time job!

It's summer and minus Taipei humidity, the outdoors is a wonderful place to be. One more week before another long flight whisks me back to the capital of Formosa.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Vicarious Photography

At least someone's not being lazy about publishing their photos...

I'm in 新竹 (Hsinchu/Xinzhu depending on whether you use the arcane yet still official romanisation or the modern pinyin that makes sense). Tomorrow is the last day of summer camp at a junior high, where the students have needed various levels of cajoling to get them to participate, their personalities ranging from pure brattiness to painfully shy to just couldn't be bothered... Anyway, it's been a pretty good experience, the company running the camp as well as all my co-teachers are fab.

I get back to Taipei tomorrow night and just over 48 hours later hop on a (direct! yea!) flight to Vancouver, where I haven't been in nearly 3 years. Then onto Tarana (Toronto... but who actually says it that way?) to see my family who are all gathering and making time for the occasion and even helping me finance this dream summer vacation trip into reality. Best family ever! : ) It'll be strange being back, I'm sure! Strange and fun. Who are you, when you haven't been defined by that reality of geography, culture and social interactions for so long?

Anyway, I'm here in Xinzhu perusing Flickriver and running across gems like this one, that I was moved to share. I think in some way it must make up for my lack of uploading pictures, or at least divert everyone's attention away from the fact... hey, look, a WAAAAY better photographer!
Source: Philipp Klinger

Happy summer everyone, stay cool and I might be in your neighborhood before long!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chasing Illusion

Now more than ever, in this era of rampant desires, we are constantly tormented day and night by material worries and desires, by attachment and hatred. It is now so important that we recognize the harmfulness of desires for, and attachment to, material possessions and passions. If we understand that all samsaric phenomena are fleeting as waves on the surface of the water, merely illusory appearancs, insubstantial as hallucinations or dreams, we will not be attached to them, and we will be able to content ourselves with what we have and remain happy, our minds open and at peace.
"Luminous Mind: The Way of the Buddha"
~ Kalu Rinpoche

Monday, April 26, 2010

Green me up, Scotty!

As I composed this blog post in my head biking home from school at 11:30am, the sun's rays beat down, ridiculing my long pants and shirt, threatening to leave me a mess of sweaty clothes and skin. Great, I thought, the sun is out - perfect timing to write a blurb about life really springing forth after a winter's rest. It's 2 hours later and threatening to rain. Well, that's certainly the spring we've grown to know and, ahem, love.

Anyway, it's the end of April! Egads! Where in all that studying, working, prepping and homework-writing does the time go? ; ) Well, capricious Miss Weather will probably throw another season at me before I'm done typing this, so let's just hope that minor earth-shaking this morning was enough to release the pressure built up under the earth's crust and aside from an umbrella I won't have to worry too much about nature's whims of the unsolicited kind.

Ah, nature. Glorious, dazzling nature, a few recent encounters with whom inspired me to write.

Last Sunday we took up one of my lovely students on her offer to a freebie hot springs spa experience. About an hour after stepping out of our door and onto the subway followed by bus, we were well out of the city and alit in front of Formosa Fun Coast better known for its huge outdoor waterpark (summertime only). We've had a few hot spring experiences here, but this was the royal treatment. You choose the pattern for your kimono for the day, then patter out to the hot spring poools of varying degrees, jacuzzi jets, steam rooms, flavored soaking pools (my fave were the rose and ginger, in that order) and the most exciting one (I thought) deserving a few muffled squeals since we were in public: the Dr. Fish Pond! I'd only read about them in Thailand. Stick your feet into this pool and small orange "hot spring fish" nibble away at the dead skin softened up by hot water. I know it sounds gross... but the experience is fascinating and slightly ticklish, whereas would you rather that dead skin stays on you 'till death do you part? Anyway this pic is just to give you an idea, ours were cuter. In true overwhelming Taiwanese countryside hospitality, we got very insistently taken our for dinner by my student's family afterwards. What a fabulous day!

In other news, my fledgling garden on the roof is expanding by the week! Luckily the plants continue to grow, not like last summer when I planted them too late and they would lose the will to go on after a few weeks. We've already had kale in our salad, basil in a quiche and some mint for garnish on dessert.

Last but not least, Happy 40th Earth Week, everyone!
This past Thursday April 22, 2010 was the 40th anniversary of a US Senator introducing Earth Day as a culmination of nearly a decade of promoting environmental issues in his political agenda.
I had the fortune of helping a friend organize a screening of No Impact Man, which evolved into some friends presenting their passions and research on water issues in India, measuring potential sustainable energy your home location can harvest as well as your energy consumption, organic tea grown on Taiwanese plantations whose owners would rather see a smaller yield than spray chemicals onto their crops, followed by the movie. It's quite an amazing undertaking, this year-long-project by a NYC family to create no negative impact on the world around them. They went to zero garbage, bicycled everywhere, shopped only in bulk and farmer's markets and even turned off electricity for six months. It was mega-inspiring and we had a lively discussion about what each of us would be willing change in our lives and how many people in the film had the opposite reaction of being appalled at the sacrifices they made. But the benefits were huge. They all became much healthier, more resourceful, intimately aware of their food supply by interacting with the people whose hands harvested the food they ate. My favorite part was the wife saying: "Without TV or airconditioning to keep us indoors, we spent so much time outside... The days just seemed to go on forever." Who has that kind of an experience these days - a surplus of time? This coincides perfectly with an article I just wrote about two unrelated authors switching off their Internet connection for two weeks or more as an experiment. That meant no constant emails, updates, notifications, hours spent playing useless games... Both of them reported to have glorious stretches of leisure time to wander on a beach, cook, read a book, call a friend...

Some food for thought. I know I can't wait for a second helping.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Picture Fun (with Flickr)

My sister (thanks, Xe!) recently sent me this great link:
See that square of color gradation from light to dark, and the sliding bit on the color spectrum beside it (top left on the page)? Change to any color and shade, give your Internet connection a few seconds, and - voila! Feeling emerald green? Fire engine red? Deep sea turquoise? Choose your own color photo-browsing adventure!

Then, for even more exciting random browsing fun, from the Flickr home page type anything you might be interested in into the search box, hit enter and... go anywhere in the world in seconds!

Here are a few of my explorations:

If you find some good ones, send them my way!
Happy exploring!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox!

This movie was so... fantastic! It's a brilliant comeback for Wes Anderson after Darjeeling Limited, which I personally thought was a big flop and harkened much more to the heady earlier days of The Royal Tenenbaums and Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
I love Wes Anderson's humor because on the one hand it's a bit bizarre, but on the other, he says all those obvious things the rest of us just think in our heads, would never comment on, but can so readily identify with. His characters are stylish, awkward, obsessed, patient... I thought it was a hilarious study in human interactions and what makes people... ur.. animals, tick.
I also thought it was fantastic that this movie pays such a fabulous tribute to the original Roald Dahl book. I personally haven't read this one, so all the more brilliant to have a script based on a brilliant classic and keep it alive, rather than some stock-formula Hollywood story. Not that Wes Anderson could ever put out one of those!
Of course, since it's based on a kid's book, it seems suitable for all ages (but oh-so-wittily-entertaining for the grown-ups, too!) I think the kid and the adult in you both need to sit down with some popcorn and then let me know what you thought! ; )

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A flurry of activity

Just before we get outta town for a 2-day jaunt down the East Coast of Taiwan (mmm, beaches and hot springs, hoping for good weather!) here's a little update on what's been going on.

I've been doing all sorts of odd English-related jobs, like recording IELTS tests in a real sound-studio, editing legalese documents as well as Taiwanese tourist info, and this past Thursday went to a gorgeous mountain campus of a high school to test students' listening/speaking ability. That on top of the usual writing, teaching, conversation classes. Keeps it all interesting.
Been jumping on opportunities to actually see more of this beautiful island, widen the ol' horizons. Explored Keelung's (North coast) seafood night market and Heping Island's funky seaside rock formations; attended a friend's co-directed production of the Vagina Monologues as part of the global V-Day movement raising money for violence against women in Taichung on the West coast. And we hope to get as far down as Taidong this weekend, basking in the ocean's salty air and drinking in the scenery.

I've handed in my application for a 4(!)-year degree at Taiwan's nationally-run ShiDa University to study Chinese Language and Culture. At the end of the program I should be able to work as a translator or a Chinese language teacher, with a solid understanding of ancient and modern Chinese culture. It was a very informative process to collect all the info needed to apply, as I had to write a study plan as well as biography and it helped me see where I've come from and where I'd like to go. Chinese Mandarin is by far the most widely-spoken language in the world today by sheer numbers of its users and I think that's only increasing. So in a shaky economy it seems like a pretty solid pursuit, not to mention I find it incredibly interesting.

Last, but not least, it's time for PHOTOS! Slowly, I've sorted through nearly 1.5 years of our time while in Taiwan. Please enjoy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Admiring Art: spanning 19th-21st centuries

21st century:
I must admit I am on the Avatar movie wagon, although I resisted it so much. I'm not generally an over-marketed-blockbuster kinda gal and what with the sky-high price of the IMAX 3D tickets, which were a challenge to get, I would've happily skipped this flick, chalking it up to another over-rated Hollywood phenomenon. Well, I'm glad Rich talked me into it. Glad, and then some! Amazing 3D film technology that's making the virtual world more and more real, stunningly beautiful world crafted by the designers and story-writers, some heart-breaking and other spirit-soaring moments with a healthy dose of honoring the sacredness of nature, all life intrinsically connected as One... I was so affected by it for the next few days, my mind wandering back to the world of Pandora and its blue Na'vi people. Although I could always do without the US-Army knucklehead characters and their big guns, there is a bit of depth to their characters and hopefully not too many will walk away from the film wishing to be cool like the people who blow up stuff first and ask questions later.

My $0.02: Go see it! And DEFINITELY make sure it's the full IMAX 3D experience.

~ ~ ~
19th century:
Taipei Museum of History is hosting an exhibition of Vincent van Gogh's paintings and sketches. To reflect his intense emotional character, it is called "The Flaming Soul." I love his late style (eg. Starry Night) but didn't know much about the artist except his tragic descent into absinthe-fueled madness, prompting him to cut off his own ear.

It was great to find out that his passion lay in showing what he felt was the truth of life: peasants working the land, the beautiful shades and shapes of rural nature, the feeling of a scene far outweighing perfectly realistic reproduction on canvas. Finally, the amount of details of light and shadow with which he filled his drawings, commands utter respect for this largely self-trained artist who could barely afford even sketch paper for most of his life.

Here are a few of my favorite works on display, along with van Gogh's own quotes interspersed throughout the exhibit. Note: the digital pics most definitely do not do him justice.

I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
Painting is a faith, and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion.

One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.